LVMH’s L Catterton Asia sees value in Gentle Monster

Private equity firm L Catterton Asia is investing in South Korean designer eyewear firm Gentle Monster.

The firm is leading a consortium, including Groupe Arnault, to acquire a minority equity stake in Iicombined, the owner of Gentle Monster. Groupe Arnault is owned and controlled by French billionaire Bernard Arnault, the chairman and chief executive of luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy.

The investment amount has not been disclosed.

Gentle Monster, known for its bold frames, is popular among celebrities and trendsetters. The brand will open its first Southeast Asian flagship store in Ion Orchard this month. It is already in more than 19 countries and has 11 standalone stores around the world, including China.

Founded in 2011, Gentle Monster surged in popularity after South Korean actress Jeon Ji-hyun wore its sunglasses in the TV drama My Love from the Star. Co-founder/chief executive Kim Hankook says the company plans to further expand its footprint into Europe and the Middle East.

L Catterton Asia, previously known as L Capital Asia, was set up in 2009 and manages more than US$1.6 billion across two private equity funds. Its other investments include F&B brand Crystal Jade, Clio Cosmetics and YG Entertainment, which manages South Korean stars like Big Bang and Psy.

L Catterton Asia chairman/managing partner Ravi Thakran says Gentle Monster is already outselling more established competitors, delivering retail productivity on a par with or better than many luxury brands.

“Given the relatively low penetration rates for sunglasses across most Asian markets, and Gentle Monster’s success in addressing the special needs of Asian consumers, we see strong growth potential for the company.”

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